A monk or friar of the Order of St. Francis, a large and zealous order of mendicant monks founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi. Meaning of Franciscans. Friars of the Order of St Francis of Assisi. The Franciscan Order (and similar orders that sprang from it like the Sisters of St. Clare) concerns its spirituality with that of their mentor. In fact it embodies so much inner meaning that practically everything that is Franciscan transcends mere outward appearances. The various lesser foundations of Franciscan friars following the rule of the first order, which once enjoyed a separate or quasi-separate existence, are now either extinct, like the Clareni, Coletani, and Celestines, or have become amalgamated with the Friars Minor, as in the case of the Observants, Reformati, Recollects, Alcantarines, etc. It has its own unique emphasis which characterizes it as “Franciscan”. St. Francis founded the Secular Franciscans in 1212 for those who do not live in a religious community, yet desired to follow the Franciscan way of life. The various lesser foundations of Franciscan friars following the rule of the first order, which once enjoyed a separate or quasi-separate existence, are now either extinct, like the Clareni, Coletani, and Celestines, or have become amalgamated with the Friars Minor, as in the case of the Observants, Reformati, Recollects, Alcantarines, etc. One of the rules laid down by their pious founder was that the brethren should always be clad like the poorest of the poor. The Secular Franciscan Order is an Order within the Roman Catholic Church, and was founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Unlike the Dominicans or Jesuits that have very clearly defined modes of theology, the Franciscans tend to be very experiential and personal, meaning that naming it is about as allusive as catching an electron: we know it’s there, and it’s certainly important, but there is just no way of fitting it neatly into a box. ... Rate this definition: Franciscans. The Franciscans live the Gospel in poverty, to work for their daily meals, to offer all they have for the poor, the sick, and the marginalized. The word friar comes from the Latin word frater, meaning brother.Frater is the root of other English words such as fraternal, fraternity, fratricide, and fraternize.When St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan order, he used the word friar because he intended its members to live as brothers without distinction of rank, title, or education. They are called also Friars Minor; and in England, Gray Friars, because they wear a gray habit. Franciscan spirituality, then, is that spirituality which comes from St. Francis and evolved within the Franciscan order. What does Franciscans mean? A general schema for Franciscan spirituality would look like this: 1. Frater is the root of other English words such as fraternity. The Franciscan Order abounds in symbolism. These preferred emphases are what make up each particular spiritual system. Originally the Grey Friars, their habits are now brown. Now, for those of us Secular Franciscans in English-speaking countries, we used to list the English abberviations -- "SFO" for " Secular Franciscan Order " -- after our names. The official web site of the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States of America. That way, everyone, regardless of country/language, has the same acronym, which emphasizes the universality of the order and has the side benefit of reducing confusion. 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